Wednesday, February 29, 2012

So begins a new day...

I recently went on a in vacation in Cancun, Mexico. This was a vacation that I have been looking forward to for a very long time, and that wait was worth it.

We arrived late in the afternoon and stayed up late the first day so we slept in and tried to recover from the travel.  However, the second day, Saturday, I arose early and went down to the beach to get a picture of the sunrise.  Somehow there is just something magical about the start of a new day and I wanted to experience without a city to interfere.

As I walked onto the beach the sky was already on fire with reflected sunlight and the glow of the potential for a new day. As I looked around I found that I was not the only person to come and enjoy the early morning at the beach.  There were people running in the stretch of sand where water and sand merge to form a surface somewhere between.  There were people out performing yoga to warm up for their day.  There was a couple out having their wedding pictures taken in the early morning light.  There were a few who actually wanted to swim this early in the morning.

But as I sat with a friend who was on the vacation trip as well, I was treated to a magnificent view of the magic of God's work. As the sun came up over the horizon the seagulls came in and wandered around the beach.  They also took flight into our photos to create an even better shot than anticipated.

I have to say that the view of the sun rising made every minute of early rising better than I expected.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Review - Lenz Moser Prestige Blauer Zweigelt Reserve 2008

I have a new flavor that I just want to taste again.

Last year my good friends went to Austria (that would be the country in Europe, not the continent) and brought back a sampling of the red wines they could find there.  The key to these wines is that these particular wines are not generally available outside of Austria.  I can find a source in Germany, but they cannot ship to the US because of our laws.  Fortunately these wonderful friends gave me a bottle for my birthday.  This is the sign of a friend who really loves you, they give from the heart and wine cellar.

The gift I received was a bottle of Lenz Moser Prestige Blauer Zweigelt Reserve 2008.  This long name just doesn't matter as much as the product inside that bottle. This is a red wine and I had been told that this wine was good, but I was not prepared for how good this wine really tastes. Highly rated, this wine is delicious beyond belief.  There are at least 4 flavors floating around in your mouth as you drink.  There are tannins, but they don't hurt the wine at all, they only make it better.  The finish is fruit forward and lingers lovingly on your palatte making you want more.  I found myself remembering the taste the next day and wishing that I had another bottle waiting for me that night.

 To my awesome friends Mike and Corinna, thank you very much.  You gave me one of the best gifts I have ever received.  When you go back again, I will be giving you money to bring more back. If you don't mind lugging it that is. ;)


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Is this a sign of new technology?

We get a lot of hail and other flying debris around here and so over the years I have seen more than my fair share of vehicles with windows covered with plastic and taped in place.  I have seen tape used to repair taillights and hold body panels on cars.  But this is the first time I have seen this.

As the wife and I were exiting a local supermarket we saw this car parked in the lot.  My first thought was that they had problems with their gas panel.  But that led me to wonder how they planned to put gas in the car if the gas cover is sealed shut.  Then I hit upon it...  this person has outfitted this PoS with cold fusion energy!  They were driving this vehicle without the expensive cost of gasoline.
This had to be the solution I was looking for.  They were testing a new form of energy generation to power vehicles and put it into a beater car to make it less obvious.  Too bad they made the mistake of taping the gas cover, that gave it all away.

That or they are really not thinking this tape job through.

-- TT

Monday, February 20, 2012

Review - Act of Valor

On February 24th the new movie Act of Valor will launch and people all over the country will be able to see it in their local theater.  Last Thursday, Feb. 16th, I had the privilege of attending a sneek preview of this movie.  A movie that will put you on the end of your seat and super glue you there for the whole 101 minutes.  The emotional intensity was such that my wife was uncomfortable for rest of the evening.  The trailer is a small view of the whole picture, but doesn't do what so many other pictures do and give you a view of all the high points.

What makes this movie so different is that the stars are not professional actors, they are professional soldiers.  Soldiers that serve in the Special Warfare Command , specifically the Navy SEALs.  They are not the best actors, but to be honest, there isn't a lot of acting needed.  The SEALs are also known as Operators, and the operators in this movie are the real deal.  Obviously there are real actors in the movie, and they all did their job wonderfully.  Jason Cottle played a great terrorist with a massive plan of revenge on the US.  Alex Veadov was awesome as a drug and arms smuggler.  The SEALs themselves are not credited anywhere and are currently back in the field doing the job they volunteered to do long before they were picked to act in this movie.

My favorite moments include the hot evac of the team where the fast boats roar up and open fire with their M134 miniguns.  Did I mention that they did a lot of filming in "live fire conditions"? Yeah, that means that those guns were really blazing.  I know these weapons from personal experience, and I have to say, those things can make you shudder and shake when they go off. At up to 6000 rounds per minute these things sound like a buzzsaw and have the effect of the same on the target.

The movie has some very touching moments and has a great memorial to the operators who have lost their life since 9-11-01. The story is supposed to be based on actual missions that the SWC has run. I don't know how accurate and real the story is, but it does seem to have a thread of truth to it and, even scarier, the story could happen with the conditions of our border and forces.

But the story isn't just about the combat these operators are in, but also the families the men have back home waiting for them.  One of them is a father of 5, another is an expectant father.  This part of the movie is a healthy reminder that the soldier we see is part of a family just like us and there are loved ones waiting for them to come home.  As the movie opens the producers talk about the fact that the families you see are the actual men's families and that the sadness you see on their faces as the men head out on the mission.

 If you want to know the price that our military pays each day and the reason you have have the freedom to read this post, go see this movie.  Just be aware you will find yourself caring what happens to these men and their families.


Friday, February 17, 2012

We know what kind of plan this is...

So I was driving up to Sioux Falls from Omaha the other day and realized that I was out of water and needed a snack and a break, but not in that order.  I decide to stop at this truck stop on the south side of Sioux City (aka Sewer City many years ago, but that's another story) and take care of the situation.  I pull in and the place looks like a ghost town.  There were signs all over the place telling me that everything in this case is 50% off.  This case is 30% off.  The shelves are pretty much empty and the cooler is almost empty too. Looks like I picked a bad time to visit.

Before I have time to search for anything I must first relieve myself of all the water I have already consumed.  I enter the men's room and belly up to the urinal.  Like most truck stop men's rooms, there are these large boxes hanging over the urinals that accept change.  First thing I notice about these is that they are big, black, and have a mirror like plate on the front  You can see them to the left here.

The next thing I noticed was the little sign stuck in the corner.  Being the voracious reader that I am, and not really having much else to do at the moment, I proceed to read the little sticker.  I then have to stifle a laugh because laughing and aim are not in the same activity area.  I then finish and lift the nice little cover.  It seems that they were trying to protect the guests from seeing these crazy things because, yes, it was a condom and toy machine.  Suddenly I have to question what kind of planning these are really meant for.

Hope your family plan is better then theirs.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A moment frozen in time

*** I apologize for missing the last post.  For some reason this post did not go up as scheduled. ***

As my wife and I were driving home from the store tonight we were witnesses to a very serious accident.  We were following behind a white pickup and suddenly I saw two pairs of headlights swerving into our lane and headed toward the white pickup as it tried, in vain, to avoid them.  Scant moments later the three collided with a resounding noise, and came to a stop on our side of the intersection we had been approaching.

I jumped out and proceeded to assist as needed and the wife started praying for everyone involved.  The white truck had a father and two children who were, thankfully, all fine.  The silver pickup shown to the right of the picture had an older couple who were a little stunned but seemed to be fine.

As I ran past the little black car in the middle I could hear someone moaning but couldn't see through the tint on the windows.  After we made sure that the people in the silver truck were okay, several of us began to try to get to the occupant of the middle car.  I left them to try that as I called in the accident, and all they could do was pull out the drivers side window and do their best to check the young man who had been driving.

I am sure that he was badly injured from what we could see since his left leg was on the windowsill and his body had slid down the drivers seat.  He lost consciousness while we waited for the emergency team to arrive, but stayed breathing.  Once the fire department arrived they had to pry the door off because the car had been so compacted by the force of the two truck colliding. They ended up calling in the helicopter to get him to the hospital as fast as possible.

Now that we have come home and had time for the adrenaline to work it's way out of our systems, we are a little drained and shocked at what happened in front of us.  The scary part I thought about later was had the truck been able to avoid the two oncoming vehicles, we would have been the next in line to hit them, and we were not in my truck but the wife's little SUV.

The most recent news I have on this is found here.

We are still praying for the young man and hope that everything works out all right for him.

Amazing how life can take a twist when you least expect it. Please be careful out there, someone will miss you, and you make a difference to someone.


Friday, February 10, 2012

A suitable solution

First let me apologize for the poor quality of the picture.

I recently went to dinner at a local establishment and on their sign was this smaller sign.  As I read it I realized that this sign was a pretty good example of the fun loving attitude of the staff.  We were "harassed" several times by the wait staff that night.  I was accused of having a smile that indicated that I was causing trouble, and a nasty twinkle in my eye.  All accusations that my wife conveniently agreed with, mush to the joy of the staff.

I just see this sign and I am glad to hear that not all places are still practicing "political correctness".


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Winter Wonderland

Here in Nebraska (did I mention I live in Nebraska?) we have been fairly warm and free of most winter weather, until this last weekend.  We were hit with a snow storm that dropped as much as 12 inches of very wet snow on the state.  Various areas lost power and there was even a building that collapsed due to the weight of the snow.

Personally, I holed in the house and enjoyed a nice warm fire while watching movies and TV with my lovely wife.  I did take a few pictures during the storm of our backyard and you can see that it was a beautiful site.  The wind was blowing out of the north and the world looked like a Christmas tree flocking machine had gone crazy and plastered the world with a layer of the white stuff.
After the storm we ventured out to a park and started taking pictures of all the natural art work we saw.  One area has a old fashioned cabin with a windmill and the snow created a picture that just seemed to be straight out of the past.  We thought about walking over to the cabin, but it just didn't seem right to disturb the scene with our footprints.

Needless to say, the trees were covered in snow, and that snow created intricate patterns on the branches.  A lot of the time it seemed that the world had lost all it's color thanks to the gray sky and all the snow, but that just seemed to make the trees that much more amazing.

As we were driving to another area in the park we passed an wooded area that was getting all the drivers to slow to a stop. We had to stop as well when we realized that the deer had bedded down in the trees and they were watching the vehicles drive by with as much curiosity as we had about them.

This last photo is a composition that I setup when we stopped to look at field. I like the way the road wraps around into the picture and how the trees have so many various textures.

Enjoy the winter weather, we will soon be complaining about the heat and humidity.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

WineStyles - Ben Hogan tasting

Good Morning!  I thought we could start our week on a fun note.

Over the past year I have done several posts about the local WineStyles in Omaha for various reasons. I recently attended a specialty tasting that focused on the Ben Hogan Tribute series of California wines.  The wines were paired with home cooked dishes that came from recipes sent by the vintner. As usual this was an relaxing evening with a few friends, great food, and great wines.

The first wine of the night was the 2009 Chardonnay.  This wine is a fine example of an oaked chardonnay.  It has the buttery feel and the creamy taste one would expect, and the scent was absolutely delicious. We had this paired with slices of bruscetta made from a french bread that had been bias cut, buttered and touched with a bit of olive oil, toasted, and then covered in toasted pine nuts.  The combination was perfect and it really brought out the flavors in both the food and the wine.

Next up was a tasty 2008 Zinfandel that was paired with pizza. Yes, PIZZA! Of course this pizza had barbeque sauce, onions, and chicken on it.  Ir was a great pairing since the pizza complimented the peppery tang of the zin wonderfully.  This wine was a fine example of the zinfandel and the taste you want from a grape of this type.

 Third in line from this awesome tasting is the quirky but oh so addictive 2008 Carnustie.  This wine with the funny name is no laughing matter.  It has the strength of Syrah, the body of Cab Sav, and the finish of Merlot and that all combines to create a wine with flavor, bouquet, and finish.  Combine this with the tasty treat of proscuitto, apple slices, and bleu cheese.  Even those who don't like bleu cheese had to admit that this was an great dish, and the zing from the Carnustie just took up up a notch or two.

Batting clean-up for this quartet was the 2008 Syrah.  Although we had this in strength in the previous wine, this syrah was a solid finish and paired with the lamb meatballs the grape just exploded and tasted even better. This syrah had the expected strength and bite that I find in a good syrah, but the finish didn't you regretting the wine.

All the great dishes were cooked for us by Jen, part of the team at WineStyles, and she did a phenomenal job with serving the food as well.  There were a few people with allergy issues and she adjusted the dishes on the fly to allow everyone to enjoy according to what they could eat.

Throughout the night we enjoyed jokes, stories, and fellowship as only WineStyles can provide.  Bob was a great host and he made it easy to relax and learn about these wines.  I have always loved the chardonnay in the tribute series, but it was even better to have with its sister wines as well.

Of course we didn't stop there and had several wines after the tasting as well.  Although I won't go into what we had, I will say we had a great time with the tasting and our friends from WineStyles all the ones we have known for so long...

... and our new ones.

I can't say it enough, get to WineStyles and see who you can meet, what you can drink,  and what you can learn.

See you there.


Friday, February 3, 2012

A Powerful Sunset

The other day I was leaving the office a little later than usual and as I came out I looked to teh West over my vehicle and was treated to this wonderful sunset. Since this was an awesome opportunity for me to put the HDR app on my phone to use I thought this might also be a chance to put up another beautiful sunset picture as well.

Enjoy the beauty since we aren't likely to see any around my area for the next few days.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The cave I live in...

As a traveling consultant I spend a lot of time on the road, and thus I spend a lot of time on the laptop.  I recently updated my wife's laptop, sort of.  As we were looking at the various laptops I had to keep in mind that she wanted to have a 17 inch screen, and I wanted her to have at least 8GB of RAM and 500GB of hard drive space.  Not normally an easy find since the average laptop these days has 4GB of RAM, 500GB of hard drive space, and a 15" monitor.  However, we found a new laptop that was the same manufacturer as my laptop and even more RAM and hard drive than I have already. The final result is that my wife upgraded me to and ASUS G74SX and took my G73JW.  What a wonderful woman I married.

It too a week to migrate to the new laptop since I was working a lot, but in the process I did take a picture of my office at home while this was all this was going on.  As you can see, I already have two systems in place, both with dual monitors, and a large TV.  The addition of the second laptop now gave me 6 screens and lots of processing power.  Too bad I have to give the one up.

I wish I could say that my office has never looked like this before, but I am a geek after all.

BTW, here is what it looks like normally... (I am a geek and we are somewhat allergic to lights after all)